2013 Legislation

SB 48 - Integrity of Utility Customer-Funded Research
Enhances the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) financial accountability and policy oversight by requiring that all ratepayer-funded energy research proposals requesting more than $1.5 million a year for sole source research contracts undergo peer review by independent experts. Peer review is the gold standard for evaluating research proposals, and it is required for nearly all federally-funded energy research projects.

SB 55 – Ignition Interlock Devices for Repeat DUI Offenders
Requires an individual convicted of a second driving-under-the-influence offense within 10 years to install and use an IID for one year before full driving privileges are restored. A third DUI conviction would result in IID installation and use for two years; a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction would require use of an IID for three years. Under current law, installation of IIDs is optional for repeat offenders. About 20 percent of those who have a choice of installing an IID or driving on a restricted license opt for IID installation.

In 2009, the most recent year in which conviction data is available, drunk drivers killed more than 1,200 people and injured 26,000 in California. Repeat DUI offenders were responsible for a third of the deaths and two-thirds of the injuries. At least 24 other states require IID's for repeat offenders.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts 2009: Alcohol-Impaired Driving, drivers with previous driving while impaired (DWI) convictions pose a substantial risk of offending again. Data shows that legally impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes were eight times more likely to have a prior DWI conviction than drivers who had not been drinking. Data from New Mexico’s IID program shows that multiple offender rearrest rates for those with IIDs were 66% lower than the rearrest rates of those without interlock devices.

The National Transportation Safety Board supports the bill stating, "if all (U.S.) drivers with at least one alcohol impaired driving conviction…used an IID, approximately 1,100 deaths could be prevented per year."

SB 115 – Parent Child Relationship
Amends the Family Code to clarify that the relevant law governing the treatment of a man who provides his semen to a licensed physician for use in artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization of a woman other than the donor's wife was never intended to preclude the opportunity to prove the existence of the presumed father and child relationship pursuant to other relevant sections of the Family Code.

SB 132 – Mountain Lion Protection

Requires the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to utilize nonlethal options when responding to incidents like the one that led to the fatal shooting of two mountain lion cubs by a game warden in the backyard of a home in Half Moon Bay on Dec. 1, 2012. Current state regulations do not give DFW much flexibility when mountain lions venture into areas populated by humans like the incidents that resulted in the Half Moon shootings and another mountain lion shooting in Redwood City in 2011. Hill’s legislation would also authorize the DFW to partner with wildlife groups and nonprofits when responding to such incidents if there is no imminent threat to human life. Current law doesn’t clearly authorize DFW to utilize the assistance of wildlife groups throughout the state even though they could help tranquilize and capture mountain lions.

SB 139 – Exchange Facilitators (Deletes Sunset)
Deletes the sunset date on a 2008 bill (SB 1007, Chapter 708, Statutes of 2008), which defined the term “exchange facilitator” and established a series of allowable and prohibited actions for exchange facilitators. By deleting the sunset date in existing law, SB 139 ensures that the consumer protections added to our law by SB 1007 will continue indefinitely. Exchange Facilitators are persons who facilitate tax-deferred transactions known as Section 1031 exchanges, after the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section that prescribes rules governing these transactions.

SB 269 – Prepaid Rental Listing Service Licensing
Requires any person who wishes to offer prepaid rental listing services to prospective tenants to hold a real estate license, and to include their license number on each contract into which they enter with a prospective tenant. Also requires persons who offer prepaid rental listing services to provide a notice to prospective tenants, before accepting a fee for their services. This notice offers customers a simple, easy-to-understand explanation of their contractual refund rights, explains how they can file a complaint about their prepaid rental listing service provider with the Department of Real Estate, and describes their options, if their PRLS provider refuses to issue them a refund in accordance with their contract.

SB 291 – CPUC Staff Citation Authority for Electrical Violations
Requires that the CPUC develop procedures to devolve citation authority for gas and electric violations to CPUC staff. Following a recommendation from the Independent Review Panel into the San Bruno explosion and a me-too from the NTSB, the CPUC has already adopted such a resolution to do so for gas safety violations (December 1, 2011), but has not done so for electric violations.

SB 318 – Small Dollar Value Loan Bill
Would establish a new pilot program under the California Finance Lenders Law (CFLL), which builds on the experiences of and knowledge gained through establishment in 2010 of the Pilot Program for Affordable Credit Building Opportunities (SB 1146, Florez, Chapter 640, Statutes of 2010). Like the SB 1146 pilot, SB 318 would require lenders interested in participating in the pilot program to apply to the Commissioner of Corporations for acceptance to the pilot. Existing lenders would have to be in good standing with their regulators in order to apply. Licensees accepted into the pilot would be authorized to make installment loans with principal amounts between $300 and $2,500. Pilot program lenders would have to underwrite each pilot program loan, offer credit education to borrowers prior to disbursing loan proceeds, and report borrower payment history to at least one major credit bureau.

A pilot program lender could not extend a loan to any borrower whose total debt to income ratio, including the installment loan for which the borrower applied, exceeded 50 percent of that borrower's gross monthly income. Pilot program lenders would be limited as to the frequency with which they could charge origination fees and late fees, and would be prohibited from offering, selling, or requiring borrowers to contract for credit insurance. They would be authorized to use third parties (known as finders) to help market their loan products to prospective borrowers, subject to specified restrictions. They would be authorized to charge slightly higher interest rates, origination fees, and delinquency fees to borrowers relative to those authorized under the CFLL.

SB 338 – Charter-Party Carriers of Passengers: Fire Extinguishers
Requires that charter-party carriers of passengers – which includes limousine operators -- equip vehicles with two readily accessible and fully charged fire extinguishers. The fire extinguishers must have at least a 2A10BC 5lb rating, which makes them effective for dousing flammable liquids and electrical fires in addition to burning non-metal solids, such as wood, paper, cloth and plastics. If passed, this act would be considered an urgency statute and would take effect immediately.

SB 407 Local Government Employee Contracts
SB 407 extends the compensation restrictions and Abuse of Power provisions (AB 1344, 2011) to all local agency executives who work under an employment contract.

SB 434 – Reforming California’s Enterprise Zone Program
Reforms the California Enterprise Zone program to make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent on true job creation instead of job transferring whereby companies fire employees in one part of the state and hire new employees in another city to claim the $37,440 per employee tax credit. There are 40 Enterprise Zones in California that offer hiring credits, sales tax credits for equipment purchases, tax credit carry-forwards and preferences for state contracts. The largest EZ tax break is the hiring credit that gives employers up to $37,440 for each qualified hire over a five year period. The EZ program costs the state $700 million a year, and the cost is growing by more than 30 percent annually.

SB 472 – Gambling License Application
Extends, from 30 to 45 days, the time after receipt of an order by the Gambling Control Commission within which a person must apply for a gambling license or a finding of suitability.

SB 482 – Removes Sunset on Grocery Store Price Verification Audit
Maintains consumer and business protections by continuing criteria and methodology for local governments to measure and to verify the pricing accuracy of check-out stand scanners (a.k.a. point-of-sale systems). The law reflects a consensus agreement between county officials and retailers, and created uniform, statewide standards and fees thereby avoiding a county-by-county patchwork of scanner accuracy verification programs.

SB 506 - Methamphetamine Production Combat Program (PSE)
Cracks down on methamphetamine production in California by requiring retailers to use electronic tracking on sales of pseudoephedrine. This will stop excessive sales in real time across all stores in the online network. The current system of hand-written purchase records allows criminals to purchase amounts of pseudoephedrine above the federal limit from multiple stores.

SB 538 – Securities Law Protections
Enacts several changes to the Corporate Securities Law of 1968 to augment the securities law enforcement resources of the Department of Corporations (DOC) and streamlines the process by which DOC may collect judgments from securities licensees found to have violated the securities laws; authorizes the DOC to charge a renewal fee of up to $35 to licensed broker-dealer agents and investment adviser representatives; and makes a variety of technical changes to other laws administered by DOC.

SB 557 – High-Speed Rail – Peninsula Protections
Would put to rest concerns on the Peninsula that the California High-Speed Rail Authority may revisit a four-track option. The new legislation would provide local agencies like Caltrain with veto-authority if the High-Speed Rail Authority ever wanted to expand to a four-track system. The bill also closes potential loopholes to make sure that funds cannot be transferred from the Peninsula segment to other segments of the high-speed project. It also clarifies that the $1.1 billion appropriated by the legislature last year will include $600 million for Caltrain electrification. It further clarifies that funds from Proposition 1A, the high-speed bond measure approved by voters in 2008, will be used solely to implement a rail system along the San Francisco to San Jose segment that primarily consists of a two-track blended system.

SB 589 – Vote-By-Mail Vote Verification
Requires the Secretary of State in coordination with county elections officials, to establish procedures to permit a vote-by-mail voter to determine whether his or her ballot had been counted and if not, the reason why it was not. In the November election, over 60,000 vote-by-mail ballots were rejected by county registrars throughout the state. Roughly 1 percent of vote-by-mail voters in California submitted their ballots and thought they voted, not knowing that their ballots were rejected. SB 589 allows vote-by-mail voters to contact their local registrar to determine if their ballot was counted. If their ballot was rejected, the bill requires the registrar to inform the vote-by-mail voter why their ballot was rejected so they can remedy the problem for future elections. Under current law, these vote-by-mail voters have no way of knowing there’s a problem and don’t know to fix the problem. Current law only requires the county registrar to inform vote-by-mail voters if their ballot was received, not if it was counted or rejected. This bill will give VBM voters the same rights afforded to provisional voters to find out whether their ballot was counted and allow them to take corrective action to ensure that their ballots will count in future elections.

SB 598 – Biosimilars
SB 598 updates the California Pharmacy Law to allow a pharmacist to substitute an interchangeable biosimilar medication when filling a prescription for a biologic medication. SB 598 updates the law so when the FDA approves interchangeable biosimilars, California pharmacists can substitute the lower cost biosimilars for brand name biologics. Biologic medicines are currently prescribed to treat blood conditions, cancers, immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s Disease and neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis and are almost exclusively administered in physician’s offices, oncology clinics, specialty pharmacies, hospitals or dialysis centers.

Biologics (syringe injectables) are large, complex, protein molecules that consist of one or more chains of amino acids with a complex multi- dimensional structure which makes them difficult to map. In contrast, pills are traditional chemical medicines with simple molecular structures that are produced by a mechanical and/or chemical process that provide predictable and uniform results. Unlike generic pills, a biosimilar is a “similar” version of the biologic. It is not generic, the same or identical. Because of the significant scientific differences between pills and biologics, Congress created a unique and separate legal pathway and regulatory process for the approval of biosimilars. Consequently, the regulatory agencies around the world (World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) etc.) have deemed that biologics cannot scientifically have “generic or identical versions” and instead can only have “similar” versions, thus the term “biosimilar.”

SB 611 – CPUC Reform

Strengthens the CPUCs' Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA) -- the division responsible for advocating that utility bills are kept low and that service is safe and reliable --by giving the DRA more control of its finances, allowing it to employ its own legal resources instead of borrowing lawyers from the CPUC, and reinforcing the due process rights of customers by clarifying that DRA may challenge CPUC decisions. A recent audit of the CPUC demonstrated that the CPUC had been exercising undue control over DRA's finances, impairing DRA's ability to advocate for low rates.

SB 636 – Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) – San Mateo County
The bill removes language that was contained in AB 1484 (Committee on Budget), Chapter 26, Statutes of 2012, the redevelopment trailer bill, relating to the disposition of certain additional property tax revenues that would result from the elimination of redevelopment agencies (RDAs). The removal of the language would result in specified additional property taxes going to cities, counties and special districts receiving excess ERAF.

Each county has a fund into which are deposited property tax revenues that have been shifted from cities, counties, and special districts for the support of K-14 education. The fund is known as ERAF and was established in 1992 to support local school districts and offset General Fund payments to education required by Prop 98. ERAF is distributed in inverse proportion to the receipt of property taxes by school districts in order for each district to be brought up to the revenue limit. No basic aid school districts receive ERAF funding. Basic aid school districts are those that reach or exceed the revenue limit based only on the receipt of local property taxes without any state funding.

The proposal encompassed in this bill would remove the language that stipulates that additional excess ERAF that may result from the dissolution of RDAs should not be construed to increase allocations of these moneys to cities, counties, or special districts. As a result of this bill, any additional excess ERAF created under the dissolution would go to cities, counties and special districts. The current data indicates that three counties—Marin, Napa and San Mateo—are receiving funds from excess ERAF and would be affected by the provision in current law enacted in AB 1484. Based on information provided by these counties, the fiscal impact of redirecting additional excess ERAF from the former property tax increment would likely be in the range of $4 million. A preliminary analysis by the Legislative Analyst’s Office indicates potential impacts of up to $16 million.

As RDA debts are extinguished and depending upon revenue limits and other factors, additional counties—or potentially fewer counties—could be affected by the diversion of a portion of excess ERAF, as directed under current law. These changes would affect fiscal impacts in future years. In addition, if the provision applies to assets of former RDAs as well, there could be unknown, additional fiscal impacts.

SB 661 – Modernizing California’s “Made in USA” Labeling Standard

Updates California’s “Made in USA” labeling standard to reflect the real-world market in which companies make products using components from around the globe. Currently California’s “Made in USA” labeling standard is 100 percent which is unrealistic for certain companies that make products with many components, some of which are not available in the U.S. The federal government and the rest of the states use a 75 percent standard. California companies that are working hard to meet California’s 100 percent labeling standard for a “Made in USA” label are at a disadvantage compared to companies in every other state.

SB 661 contains important language clarifying that if a company's product meets the 90 percent standard, the company must prove that no more than 10 percent of the total manufacturing costs for the merchandise were either incurred outside of the US as a result of the unavailability of raw materials in the US, or because US manufacturers don’t make the specific component. This provision prevents companies from reaching the 90 percent threshold, then purchasing the remaining 10 percent of the product components from another country, even if those components are available in the US. The bill also requires that the merchandise must be last substantially transformed in the United States.

SB 684 – RDA Signs
Bill would authorize the extension, preservation and retention of existing redevelopment signs with approval of the local city or county.

SB 762 – Cash for Gold
Requires that if a secondhand dealer cannot produce a valid business license then items that are illegally obtained may be impounded, and forfeited if certain requirements are not met. A portion of this forfeiture shall be directed to the general funds of the appropriate city for purposes of offsetting increased enforcement costs, and the general funds of the appropriate county for purposes of offsetting increased prosecutorial costs.